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Dating Checklist: How to Make One & Why It Can Benefit Your Life

Having a dating checklist may sound high maintenance, but is it actually beneficial to helping you find your ideal match?

What is a dating checklist? It is just like any other checklist. It is the list of the things you need. Your grocery checklist is what you need from the store, and a dating checklist is what you need from a partner.

Now, some people think having a dating checklist makes you picky. Some people would say it makes you snobby. But, I say, it is a solid way to make sure you’re not settling, in most cases. [Read: Should you settle for less when you can have so much more?]

Should you have a dating checklist?

Not everyone needs a dating checklist, but it definitely has its benefits. If you find yourself in a pattern of dating people who are totally wrong for you, a dating checklist can help to guide you in the right direction.

If you can identify the qualities of your exes that led to the breakup, you can work from there when listing what you need from a partner.

But, keep in mind that if you make a dating checklist that it is not set in stone. It is only a guide to remind you of the qualities you think best suit you. And it doesn’t have to be a checklist of qualities in a partner.

A dating checklist can consist of qualities your partner brings out in you. It can contain what you need from the relationship as a whole. And it can contain how your partner should make you feel.

[Read: How to find your soulmate: 30 practical tips to keep you from giving up]

I know making a checklist for dating can sound critical and take the romance out of the equation, but in fact, it can be quite the opposite.

When you know that someone ticks off all the things you need from a relationship, you can focus on the good parts. You can enjoy the passion and romance because you don’t have to worry about things that may have caused rifts in the past.

But, be aware that a dating checklist is not a cure for breakups. It will not make your relationship perfect or prevent arguments, nor can it help you not repeat past mistakes. It can guide you in the right direction, but it will only help you if you are realistic about it. [Read: 15 signs of a healthy relationship you should always look for]

What should you have on your dating checklist?

A dating checklist is only useful if it is realistic and practical. It should contain things like someone reliable or open-minded. These should not be things like someone who’s six feet tall or makes six figures a year.

A dating checklist should be helpful and bendable, not harsh and specific. You are not picking a car, you are picking a life partner. People are complicated and constantly changing. You can require heated seats, a sunroof, and good gas mileage in a car, but a dating checklist needs to be made for people.

This about your deal breakers that will truly affect your potential future with someone.

[Read: 10 relationship deal breakers to watch out for]

Do you only see yourself with someone that shares your religious beliefs? Would it never work out between you and a climate change denier? Do you know you want kids in your future?

Look back on your past relationships. I know I’ve had bad experiences with guys who claim to not be feminists. It tends to lead to disrespect, emotional abuse, and the loss of my confidence. Therefore, moving forward, my checklist would contain someone that respects everyone equally, no matter their differences.

The same goes for smoking. I have lost many people in my life due to lung disease, and it is something I could not handle again. So a non-smoker would be on my checklist. But, with all of that, you should be able to make compromises.

For instance, I would date a former smoker, just not someone who currently smokes or plans to in the future. A dating checklist should contain things that are truly important to you but are not unbendable. [Read: Starting a new relationship? Your checklist to a happy romance]

At one point I had said I could only date a guy who had sisters because every guy I’d dated who didn’t have any were misogynists, but that is a prejudgment. You have to be able to bend and change. You may not be able to picture yourself with someone younger than you or from a different background but that could be what’s perfect for you.

In case you have no idea where to start, here are some things to consider putting on your dating checklist.

#1 Religious beliefs. This is not something everyone needs to agree on, but if your religion is highly important to you and having someone share your beliefs is vital, that maybe something to consider. 

#2 Political stance. Again, there are plenty of opposing political opinions in successful relationships, but if focusing on climate change or women’s rights is part of your daily life, dating someone opposed to that would not make sense for you.

#3 Wanting kids. I know it is awkward to talk about this early on when dating, but it is something a lot of people don’t talk about until they’ve already committed. Differing stances can cause resentment or a painful breakup. [Read: 20 questions to ask your love and learn everything you need to know]

#4 Willingness to move. If you are happy where you are with no desire to move for work or for your partner, dating someone that moves every year may not be something you’re willing to do.

#5 Ability to openly communicate. In my book, this should be on everyone’s dating checklist. Being able to communicate about the good and bad stuff is vital to the success of any relationship. Of course, people can grow and improve on this, but requiring some sort of communication is important.

#6 Physical compatibility. This is not something you need from the first date. It can grow over time and be even better when it grows rather than having major chemistry off the bat. But intimacy is important to romantic relationships and seeing the potential for it is something to consider. [Read: 50 relationship questions to test your compatibility instantly]

#7 Lifestyle. We do tend to meet people who share lifestyles similar to us, but that is not always the case. Sure, opposites can make it work, but as a homebody would you want to date someone who goes to clubs every night and vice versa? This is definitely something that can be compromised on, but not for everyone.

#8 Sense of humor. Humor gets us through so much in life: every day monotony, hardships, trauma. Humor cheers us up and brings joy to everyday. If you and your partner can’t laugh or relax in that way, it could bring a lot of stress and tension to a relationship. [Read: The 12 types of humor and how it affects relationships]

Expectations of a dating checklist

Creating a dating checklist needs to always be about remaining openminded and accepting. Yes, we should all have standards and feel good about sticking to them. We also have to be able to see the bigger picture and know the difference between requirements we know we deserve and things that we can adjust to.

Straying from your checklist is important. It is not like sticking to your itinerary.

Your expectations of having and following a dating checklist should be guidance and knowing your worth. This checklist should remind you that you are worthy of someone that puts in the effort and treats you as an equal. [Read: 12 relationship boundaries new couples must draw early on]

It should guide you to someone that respects your time and energy and appreciates your company. Don’t let it close you off to opportunities for happiness and branching out of your comfort zone.

It shouldn’t limit you to a “type” of person, but to the level of trust in your potential relationships and yourself. It should remind you not to settle for less than you deserve, but to compromise.

[Read: Why going low only leads to lousy relationships]

Having a dating checklist is something that can guide you to romantic happiness. With the wrong mindset, it can hold you back. So, before making one, remember how it should be used.

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